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Under Lock & Key

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 80]
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Reflect!

Life’s purpose works us unmercifully.
The first degree is knowledge of self.
The repressed anger dangers everyone around.
The compound is stilled, lockdown!
The wild sounds in between their ears
Are quieted by a cell.
The hell in the mind tortures through silence
The obvious is far fetched till it hits home
The zone of protection lies in the hands of another,
My brother.
Gun in hand,
He stands for a heavy hand of justice
But homie its just–us.
The price of fame is to become lost.
To lose myself is to gain.
I stand here today for my life’s purpose.
The words hurt more than any sword.
No guard or judge can protect you from life.
No strife or burden can protect you from your heart.
From now till your ending,
Are you living your life’s purpose?

 Think!!!
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[Rhymes/Poetry] [First Nations] [ULK Issue 80]
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Warrior's Feet

  Within the memories that I keep,
Is a warrior’s pride,
Listen close and hear the beat,
Of my heart inside.

  For in my soul the sound of thunder
Echoes from the past,
To fill your life with the wonders,
Of shadows that I cast.

  Because I walk with warrior’s feet,
Left from those before,
All I have to do is seek,
Our ways within my core.

  Ancient blood runs through my veins,
Knowledge that is vast,
All the heartache and the pain,
Oppression that still lasts.

  Reservations are just a jail,
Built without a wall,
To keep us all within a cell,
Except for gaming laws.

  But gaming laws are just a ploy,
So we fight each other,
The privileged few become a toy,
Forgetting we are brothers.

  There’s many Nations that never signed,
Any peace accord,
Now it seems we cannot find,
The way we lived before.

  United we must try to stand,
Divided we will fall,
But as I walk upon this land,
I will never crawl.

  The government will make us pay,
Just to take our rights,
But its a game I will not play,
I would rather fight!

  I’ll walk with ghosts of my past,
Our war will never end,
Within the shadows that I cast,
The ancients live again.

  When I breathe they come alive,
Their hearts will beat with mine,
Even when I finally die,
Peace I will not find.

  From within we’re torn apart,
For paper that is green,
Forgetting where we get our start,
On paths and mountain streams.

  We lost our way through the years,
Blinded by the games,
Losing sight of all our tears,
And our elder’s pains.

  But if they came alive today,
Would you stand with pride,
Or would you run away that day,
To hide the shame inside?

  I refuse to surrender or ever fall,
Accepting our defeat,
So I will stand up straight and tall,
And walk on warrior’s feet!!!

(P.S. This is about how the government puts us against each other through the gaming laws and blinds us with bullshit!)

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[Censorship] [Abuse] [Legal] [Grievance Process] [California] [Florida] [ULK Issue 79]
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California Move to Digitize Communications Impedes Civil Rights (after Florida Just Did)

The truth has finally out come from the darkness and into the light: people housed within social isolation by the U.$. criminal justice system are not considered persons protected by the U.$. Constitution, international agreements against torture, or Human Rights. States across the United $tates are actively deploying systems and protocols that suspend persons held in custody, in social isolation from Amerikan society, away from the protections of law, due process and order.

The criminal justice trend is to eliminate prisoners’ freedom to use and access Postal Services. It’s like the U.$. Postal Service has entered into a private agreement with the criminal justice system to deny mailing services of the traditional sense from all imprisoned.

Correction departments across the U.$. have engaged in concerted acts of sedition, substituting systems disguised as fun helpful tablet gadgets and video visitation programs for actual social interactions. Gone are the days of free assembly/press/congregation and religious exercise. Now persons are free to shut up, and be retaliated against for even hoping to benefit from the protections of the U.$ Constitution’s freedom of speech.

Even the freedom to grieve against the state has been frozen. In California it is being done under the departments decision to cease classical mailing processes for email services made available by the Global Tel Link security corporation. CDCR is planning to phase out all traditional mailing services in exchange for heavily restricted online access.

The move by CDCR involves outsourcing labour facilities and redirecting institutional service agreements to security bonds controlled by state agencies outside of the department’s jurisdiction, for example, the Department of Health and Human Services. The moves are being made under the cover of darkness, better yet the cover of claims to public safety, and the Center for Disease Control acts as the shelter. All in the name of mental health and hospitality for Amerikans with disability? From prisoners of circumstance to residences of outpatient facilities too doped out of their minds to even know the value of a traditional letter.

CDCR has began phasing out traditional mailing services using its Inmate 602 Grievance Procedures, institutions have eliminated traditional answering and mailing procedures for residence. Not only does the department rely on a new SOMS computer scanning system that forecloses any original writings and supporting information attached to an Inmate grievance, but it is enforcing computer software coding, by way of its Global-Tel Link tablet emails, that requires California prisoners to email grievances. This last part connects to the criminal justice system in the late requirements of U.S District Courts in California for 1983 Civil complaints filed by prisoners be done via email. If an individual can’t even write a simple complaint any longer, it begs to question what is the U.$. standing in justice?

Technological advances are all good and all, but are the residence of these penal institutions still citizens of the United Snakes of Amerika? Or does their custody lie somewhere else?

It is important that the public be aware of this very serious dynamic between themselves, the state and those in custody of state agencies like CDCR. The state is allowing for those in the custody of CDCR to be stripped of their civil rights and it all is being done in the name of the people, under the color of law. Silence is not an answer to the claims set forth against the people.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Prison Legal News (PLN) just reported some interesting stats following the Florida Department of Corrections completing its move to digitizing all regular correspondence. They found that 1% of the contraband found by the Florida DOC was through routine mail. Meanwhile, in July 2022, the Legislative Finance Committee noted that after New Mexico shifted to digitized mail there was zero effect on the amount of drug use in their prisons.(1) These statistics back up what we’ve been reporting on anectdotally for years – that mail restrictions and visitation shut downs have had no impact on the influx of drugs into prisons across the country.(2)

According to PLN prison systems and jails in 27 states have switched to digitized mail. With California gearing up to follow suit, it seems the tides have shifted in that direction.

Like body cams, some prisoners have asked for digital grievance systems so the C.O. you submit it too can’t just drop it in the trashcan. Otherwise, we agree with this comrade’s concerns. Social isolation is a violation of basic humyn rights and humyn needs. Visits, phone calls, letter, photos and cards are a must for any system that hopes to rehabilitate.

Notes: 1. Kevin Bliss, 1 September 2022, Florida Now Digitizing Incoming Mail for State Prisoners, Prison Legal News September, 2022, page 48.
2. A Texas Prisoner, March 2021, TDCJ: Your Staff are Bringing in the Drugs, and it Must Stop, Under Lock & Key No. 73.

Prison Legal News
P.O. Box 1151
Lake Worth Beach, FL 33460
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[Palestine] [National Oppression] [National Liberation] [International Connections] [Boycott] [Militarism] [ULK Issue 79]
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Free Palestine - Join the BDS Movement

In yet another act of terrorism, Shareen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-amerikan journalist, was targeted and killed by the illegitimate state of I$rael and its military. The I$raeli state, its occupation of Palestine, and its armed forces are and have been backed by the united state’s ruling class since 1932. On 11 May 2022, while on the job, covering an I$raeli military raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, she was maliciously assassinated.

Shareen Abu Akleh became a thorn in the side of the I$raeli state as a result of her continuous on the spot coverage of daily state repression, human rights violations, and Palestinian genocide. She covered many detentions, home demolitions (which Palestinian homes were targeted in, and demolished to force them to relocate for I$raelis) military raids of schools and universities, and Masjids, and killings of Palestinians. This brave frontline work placed her on I$raeli hit lists.

Shareen Abu Akleh was a journalist for decades and a Palestinian revolutionary-nationalist, who being a trailblazer in her field, inspired many Palestinian and Arab wimmin to serve their people through the work of liberation journalism.

Her funeral brought out tens of thousands of supporters, mostly Palestinian, in Jerusalem. As pallbearers carried sister Shareen, the I$raeli military attacked them, and further disrupted the occasion with malicious zionist violence against Palestinian nationals.

Sadly, the colonization of Palestine, the Apartheid regime of I$rael, and violent and fatal repression of native inhabitants is all apart of the imperialist system. What does imperialism look like? It looks like land theft, it looks like millions of people living without power or plumbing, it looks like bombing and shelling of homes, schools, hospitals and finishing the job by attacking refugee camps. It looks like storming universities, confiscating study materials, it looks like the process of erasing an entire human group, and that’s exactly what’s taking place in Palestine. There will be many who call for justice for Shareen Abu Akleh, but the sad truth is that justice for her and justice for the Palestinian nation can only be achieved with the end of the I$raeli occupation.

FREE THE LAND!!! FREE PALESTINE!!!

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is a grassroots initiative that began in the early 2000’s to gain international support for the occupied Palestinian nation against I$rael’s continued military suppression, genocide and land theft.

In recent years the BDS movement has indeed gained international support, even in the face of reactionary pro-imperialist backlash from the states who support genocide, land theft and military crimes.

The goal of BDS is to isolate I$rael on the international field by upholding the “simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity”.

Students around the world have been pressuring their schools and universities to join the ‘Academic Boycott’, initiated in 2004 by the Palestinian campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of I$rael (PACBI). As student activism again comes to life here in the United $tates, it is important that students engage in internationalist frameworks. Amerikan student activists should support the academic boycott of I$rael, which is part of the overall BDS movement. Students should do this not as a mere moral cause, but the understanding that over 50% of the U.$. states strongly support the I$raeli military-apartheid-colonization, so much so that 35 states have Anti-BDS laws. They support the frequent military raids of Palestinian universities under the pretext of ‘countering terrorist activities’, the imprisonment and murder of student activists peacefully protesting, closure of schools and the recent I$raeli military move to arbitrarily control what is and isn’t taught in universities. A new government procedure allows the military to restrict visiting professors who teach subjects supposedly ‘not relevant to Palestinians’.

In the United $tates, the free flow of ideas has begun to be brought to an end. Book bans, Don’t Say Gay laws, the backlash against Critical Race Theory, what’s next? Will the same reactionaries rally police/ military force to suppress your student demonstration? The book Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán has been banned in prisons in many parts of occupied Aztlán. Will the reactionaries prevent your free thought? NEWSFLASH THEY ALREADY ARE! Students in North America should pressure their institutions to join the Academic boycott and the wider BDS movement. END ALL COLLABORATION WITH THE ILLEGITIMATE STATE, until Palestine is free.


MIM(Prisons) adds: One of the first essays many students of MIM study is On Contradiction by Mao Zedong. In it Mao explains how change must come from within. The liberation of Palestine depends on an effective national liberation struggle from within Palestine, but it can be assisted by resistance to the funding and arming of the I$raeli state by Amerikans whose government is the primary prop of I$rael. A strong anti-imperialist movement in this country would be able to limit the sale of military goods to I$rael, Ukraine and anywhere else where the empire wants to fight wars against its enemies without sending its own troops.

Notes:
(1) ‘Palestinian-american journalist assassinated,’ Monical Hill, FreedomSocialist,vol.43,no.3
(2) ‘Academic fortify boycott of Israel’, Raya Fidel, FreedomSocialist,vol.43,no.3

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[MIM(Prisons)] [ULK Issue 79]
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ULK 79: MIM(Prisons) Update

First a correction. In Under Lock & Key 78 the article Understanding George Jackson repeatedly referred to Hugo “Yogi” Pinell as being Puerto Rican when ey was actually of Nicaraguan descent.

In this issue we tried to tackle some questions of strategy for change. Most of our readers each issue are new to our work. And while everyone we hear from loves ULK, not everyone understands how we’re different, or agrees with our different approach to change. In this issue we distinguish our strategy from those of reformists, those organizing the labor aristocracy into unions, and right and left errors around identity politics and idealism. We also feature the ongoing work around targeted campaigns around strategic issues of censorship, solitary confinement and building a united front within the prison movement in general, with revolutionary leadership.

Since last issue we, have a number of accomplishments to report. We published, printed and distributed the new zine Power to New Afrika! in Black August 2022. We have continued our training program for the Revolutionary 12 Step Program we began earlier this year with comrades inside and outside. We are caught up in mailing out responses to the intro study course, and should be mailing those on a weekly basis moving forward. This means you can expect to get a response in less than 2 months. Hundreds if not thousands of comrades inside mailed petitions to the Department of Justice as part of the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative. And we continue to mail out copies of the petition. Dozens if not hundreds of postcards demanding an end to politically targeted censorship were mailed to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Departmental Review Board. With this, the distribution of Under Lock & Key outside prisons has increased. Comrades inside also continue to sustain our postage stamp needs with their donations.

While the above accomplishments were achieved with the support of some newer comrades, we also lost some support on the outside during this period. This has meant we have struggled to stay up to date on processing and responding to our growing influx of mail. It also has caused us to change how we mail out ULK, which will more than double our postage costs. As printing costs also increase, the annual cost of a subscription will be going up and we will update our readers in our next issue, so that you can donate enough to cover your own ULKs or more.

Related to donations, a comrade in California wrote:

"I’m writing to inform all comrades that I wrote the Khufu Foundation, sent them the requested stamps and within two weeks I received a copy of the lawsuit. I know MIM said that you were unable to vouch for the Khufu Foundation, but I can and I would like to inform all the captive comrades that Khufu Foundation is legit, you will not be disappointed.

“Also in Under Lock & Key 78, I read the MIM(Prisons) update that talks about contributions/donations are needed, especially from the many comrades who are in prison. I’m taking the step to do my part as I enclosed a book of 20 stamps to cover my subscription coast as well as other comrades who are unable to provide the support with stamps. I would like to ask all of the comrades who are able and willing to donate a book of stamps because with a book of stamps we are able to cover our cost but also cover other comrades who are unable to give stamps. I also would like to ask the comrades who are able to try and donate one book of stamps every quarter (that’s 4 books of stamps a year). Let’s try to step up our contributions.”

Requests for Texas Packs and the TDCJ’s Grievance Operations Manual (which is regularly being censored these days) continue to increase. New comrades should read about our Free Political Books to Prisoners Program on p.2 and understand that you must send payments for these 2 items.

As discussed in this issue, many prisons have begun digitizing mail. Our newspaper cannot be processed by these services. So if you don’t tell us what prison you are in when you write us we cannot send you a subscription.

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[Culture] [Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 79]
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A Letter to My First Love

When we first met, it was truly love at first sight. i was a young, wild, Gangster Disciple… and unfortunately i was a parasite. You walked into the room, and… you began to speak. i will never forget your first words: “Dare To Struggle! Dare To Be Free!”

Our eyes were fixated on each others. It was like you were talking directly to me. i was captivated by the things you had to say. i was overwhelmed by your Divine Inner-G! You sent chills throughout my body, but the message i still didn’t quite understand. So you walked over and put your arms around me… and whispered in my ear: “Free The Land.”

The way you walked, and the way you moved, intrigued me. Your pride in being Black was intoxicating for sure. From that moment on i knew that i had to have you… because you were just too much for me to ignore.

So We began to date casually, and… you let me know that if i were really ready to step up and be your man, then i had to let go of my gang-banging mentality. i had to go from Gangster Disciple to Growth and Development. i had to learn what knowledge of the self meant. i had to take time and learn the New Afrikan Creed. i had to learn all about FROLIAN, which you called The Three Phase Theory.

i couldn’t believe how committed to change you were. You told me you had a plan, and i recall smiling at you and asking, so what is this plan? But you had this intense look on your face… the most serious look i had ever seen. Then you took me out west with you to Oakland, and… you introduced me to Comrade Huey P.

I will never forget his words of wisdom. He taught me that to give my life for The People is the greatest honor of all, and that it is better to die on my feet then to live on my knees. He told me that We are at war, and… that the price of freedom ain’t free.

This motivated me, because, all my life i was willing to die over a color or for which way a person wore their hat. i recall asking you why you think i was so willing to do this? And… you replied, “N’dugu, Willy Lynch taught you that.” i was sickened to my stomach, and i couldn’t understand how this could be. So you took me back to The Land–Chicago–and introduced me to The Chairman of the Black Panther Party.

Chairman Fred Hampton was a flame thrower, very charismatic… truly something to behold. i will never forget what he told me: “i am a Revolutionary! i have given my life to The People!”

All the things you were showing me, made me rise in love with you even more. Especially when you taught me about the bravery of 17 year old Comrade Johnathan Jackson, and… when you let me read your personal Prison Letters from Comrade George.

You taught me about Queen-Mother Assata Olugbala Shakur. And… how the Black Liberation Army liberated her from kkkaptivity and got her to Cuba. You taught me about how this racist system tried to murder Comrade Mumia Abu Jamal, even though they KNEW he wasn’t a shooter.

You gave me the lessons of Comrade Geronimo Ji Jaga, who went to prison for 28 years for something he didn’t do. You showed me how this fascist system will do anything to neutralize to the 21st Century Voices Of Total Empowerment… the same way they dropped the bomb on MOVE!

You gave my life purpose and meaning, and for that i will never put anything above you. i honor you on our anniversary, Black August, but every single day i will show you that i love you. i just wanted to write you this letter, my first love: The New Afrikan Liberation Struggle!

FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS 21 Gun Salutes to ALL this Black August

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[Drugs] [ULK Issue 80]
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Drug Addiction Remains a Primary Barrier to Unity

Those who sow discord into unity are our enemies. If we ourselves are guilty of pushing the people from the movement then we are our own enemy while we divide and conquer ourselves.

Prior generations fought for change, but today we fight over change: back-biting our brothers, looking down on the misfortunate, and even supporting the police in their corruption and brutality.

We are familiar with the divide and conquer tactics of our opposition; so when our lines of communications are broken, we must have faith in our comrades and remain loyal or the oppressor will create division by placing contempt and distrust in your heart towards your comrades.

We have a prisoner here in “High Risk Security” lock-up who is unable to operate a tablet. Instead of attempting to show him how to use it, they decided not to feed him.

This prisoner is clearly supposed to be in a mental institution. He is too mentally unstable to qualify for recommendation to be released from High Risk Security stats; and even if they did allow this prisoner to be released to regular population, his mental condition will cause altercations with other prisoners or staff. This is a breach of safety in the department that doesn’t care about mental patients although the department is quick to provide sentences to subjects they failed to place in safe environment.

Comrades, we must put our heads together, shoulder-to-shoulder, and put down the K2. If finding a way to do away with drug test for THC is the alternative, then we must try. We must band together to overcome this addiction. It won’t be easy, but it is necessary when you look around and see our fellow comrades in helmets and 4 point restraints losing their sanity. Do we even know the differences between K2 and phenol paper? And molly is meth. That’s worse than crack. Never get high off your own supply, and don’t inject white substances. I’m not telling you what to do, but we can not operate or function against our opps while walking around like crackheads because we’ll be more loyal to the high than to the movement.

Before I go, I just want you to know, AKs got the floor. We want peace not war. Less we all storm the doors. When it rains, it pours.

T.R.U.C.E. - Team of Revolutionaries Uniting to Combat the Enemy.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is one of a handful of leaders engaged in United Struggle from Within’s Revolutionary 12 Steps training program. We are working to build this program inside and outside prisons around the country and we need more leaders to get trained to do so.

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[Campaigns] [Black Lives Matter] [Parole] [Work Strike] [Organizing] [Alabama]
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Free Alabama Phase 2

rally at AL capitol to free prisoners
About 100 supporters rallied outside the Alabama Capitol on 14 October 2022

The Free Alabama Movement has declared their recent organizing a success, with over 15,000 prisoners participating and prodding response from the governor during the campaign season.(1) They have announced the next phase of their struggle for reasonable paths to parole and release. It involves the drafting and proposal of a state bill. The Alabama Legislature opens on 3 March 2023, and prisoners have planned to launch a campaign to promote and support the proposed bill at that time.(2)

Following the recent actions, a damning report came out substantiating the prisoners demands:

“July 2022 was the deadliest month on record in Alabama prisons. Thirty-two people died in Alabama prisons in July — the most since at least January 2000, the earliest month for which data is available online. More people died than were granted parole that month.”(3)

The Free Alabama Movement concludes in their recent statement:

"On September 26, over 15,000 people stood up for freedom in the Alabama prison system. That’s 10,000+ new soldiers, warriors and generals to the ranks who had NEVER participated in a shutdown before. Most of them didn’t know they would be challenged by the ADOC at the core of our most basic human need: food. This is a real struggle against a system that is well funded and has been in existence for over 100 years. We gotta act like we want freedom, and move with the understanding that that will be a test of your will and spirit to achieve something great.

"Understand the mission brother and sisters. A call has been made for us to stand again. We cannot miss our assignment and expect change.

“Dare to struggle, dare to win.”

Notes:
1. Free Alabama Movement, 23 October 2022, “Fifteen Thousand Stood Up on September 26, 2022”.
2. Free Alabama Movement, 24 October 2022, “A Path to Freedom”.
3. Evan Mealins, 18 October 2022, “July was the deadliest month on record in Alabama prisons. Here’s what we know”, Montgomery Advertiser.

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[Theory] [Polemics] [Idealism/Religion] [ULK Issue 79]
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Some Discussions on Bad Ideas Pt. 1

A core aspect of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is the bond between theory and practice. For instance, there is a theoretical analysis of the labor aristocracy in the imperialist countries and the practical application of that theory is not organizing around labor aristocrat interests. There is a theoretical analysis of building independent institutions among the masses; and the practical application of that theory is building United Struggle Within grievance campaigns, building Maoist prison study groups, building peace between lumpen organizations through the United Front for Peace in Prisons, etc. There is a theoretical analysis of revolution; and the practical application of that theory is boycotting elections, refusing to use armed struggle as a bargain chip and instead see it as a necessity, etc. These are just some broad and simplified examples of the relationship between theory and practice to paint the picture. Incorrect practice and incorrect theories go hand in hand: one strengthens the existence of another.

The main purpose of this article is to start a series of articles akin to the “Ongoing Discussion on Organizing Strategy” series which started among USW comrades.(1) The series has been productive on maintaining a two-line struggle within the USW and the overall prison movement, and delves deep into the many questions raised in organizing behind bars. We hope to bring that energy of discussing strategy and tactics of Maoist organizing behind bars to that of political line both inside and outside U.$. prisons. These bad ideas aren’t dividing line questions (such as the labor aristocracy question or the class nature of the Chinese Communist Party in 2022) that MIM(Prisons) struggle with other communist organizations through polemics. Rather, these are day-to-day bad ideas and attitudes that many people take up within the communist movement (even good comrades). They enforce liberalism during line struggle, and stunt scientific thinking. Let’s begin.

1. Defending Revisionism Through One’s Laurels and Clout

One example of this was when Joma Sison repeatedly refused to acknowledge the national contradiction as principal in the United $tates, and communists refused and still refuse to criticize due to his historically integral role in the People’s War in the Philippines.(2) Communists don’t look at persynal laurels or prestige when it comes to criticism; everything and everyone that partakes in bad practice and bad beliefs is targetable for criticism. If the Sison defenders said “historically and currently, the United $tates’ principal contradiction has always been class and is currently class” then perhaps there will be more legitimacy for line struggle and discussion albeit it still being a chauvinist and revisionist take. However, what does Joma Sison being a historically great revolutionary leader that rectified the errors of the Communist Party of Philippines in the 60s-70s have to do with the fact that the current United $tates’ society has developed around the oppressed nations in a historical materialist manner?

Now if a former neo-nazi prisoner who joined the United Struggle Within brings up how the white workers are the masses, then bringing up his past identity as a neo-nazi would be more relevant in criticizing this individual comrade to the correct line from an incorrect one since his past practice as an Amerikan First World lumpen could influence his current politcs. Ultimately, bringing up his past errors (or victories even) is only a small part of criticizing the comrade, and ultimately it’s the combating of that idea and political practice that will be the final nail in the coffin of getting rid of that bad line from that comrade’s thinking and most importantly the overall movement. A part of this problem contains in identity politics, which leads to the next point.

2. Incorrect Handling of Identity Politics

Identity politics has been a hot topic among communists with some seeing it as non-antagonistic with Marxism and with many joining the conservative reactionary bandwagon of fascists ranting about “woke” culture and post-modernism. The classic Amerikan value of pragmatist empiricism (the idea of the only way to truly know anything is through directly experiencing it) is antithetical to Maoism, and it is our stance that post-modernism and identity politics can be looked at it the same or adjacent manner in terms of philosophy. The Maoist doctrine of cadres learning from practice and the masses learning revolution through waging revolution can become Amerikan pragmatism if we aren’t careful.

Today in 2022, this pragmatist empiricist idea is popular among the oppressed nations represented in popular day-to-day slogans such as “don’t speak over (insert a particular oppressed group)” and “stay in your lane” when a person not belonging to a certain social group (gender, religion, sexuality, nation, etc.) is talking about issues pertaining to said certain group since they don’t directly experience that group’s existence. Some revisionists see no problem with identity politics and post-modernism, and think that identity politics and post-modernism must be a good thing because the fascists are complaining about it and complaining about it must mean one is a fascist. Other revisionists have straight up adopted national chauvinism. When the masses criticize the communists with “a lot of communists are racist and don’t really care about black/brown/indigenous people” these chauvinists resort to taking up fascist talking points and attitudes against identity politics and post-modernism.

It is an important Maoist doctrine that post-modernism and pragmatist-empiricism are both unscientific capitalist garbage that poisons the masses. It is another Maoist doctrine that the masses under oppression will go to the current superstructure of the enemy (capitalist philosophies, capitalist institutions, the capitalist state, etc.) during times of oppression. When communists have failed the masses of the United $tates for 400 years by supporting the white workers and putting the national contradiction beneath white worker interests at best and attacking oppressed nation masses alongside the white workers at worst, then perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised when the oppressed nations go to classical Amerikan pragmatism and post-modernism of relying on lived experiences and changing discourse instead of dialectical materialist thinking and revolution. This is especially true for the case where the oppressed nations are majority labor aristocrat as well – the class where this ideology grows the most ferociously amongst.

The communists have failed in Afghanistan with Soviet revisionism, so the Afghan masses went to the existing superstructures within the semi-colonial, semi-feudal nation such as Jihad instead of people’s war. Instead of lambasting the Afghan (or in this case the Chicano, First Nations, and New Afrikan) masses, perhaps communists should get their heads out of their asses, and try to appreciate why Jihad/pragmatist-empiricism as an idea (despite its reactionary content) is so popular among the masses in the first place.(3)

One interesting thing we see as a Maoist prison cell is that identity politics tend to be less popular among prisoners which perhaps shows that the oppressed nation labor aristocracy might go for identity politics for its liberation far more than the oppressed nation lumpen who might go for conspiracy theories or capitalist boot-strap mentality which we see more popular among prisoners and less with the student activist types that concern themselves more with identity politics. This leads to the third point.

3. Hating the Masses for their Reactionary Ideas under Oppression

Identity politics isn’t the only bourgeois idea that the masses hold from the current capitalist superstructure. There are other ideas such as patriarchy, homophobia, pulling one-self up by the bootstraps, voting for the lesser evil, superstition, conspiracy theories, and religion just for starters. When the masses show these tendencies, many communists throw them into the enemy camp and treat them as if they were enemies. For example, a communist student activist type might walk up to a Black Hebrew Israelite and the topic of anti-semitism could pop up. The communist university student will call the Black Israelite a fascist for his views and say the Black Israelite should stay in his lane about Jewish issues. When Mao said that we want politics in command and political line is principal, he didn’t mean that our friends and enemies are determined by their personal beliefs (whether that be politics, religion, moral principles, cultural traditions, etc.). Mao didn’t say “any Chinese peasant who participates in foot binding should be ostracized from the movement.” And we can argue that foot binding is much more backwards and patriarchal than the common patriarchal/reactionary cultural values held by oppressed nations masses in 2022. In fact, Mao’s method of finding out who our friends and enemies were in China was by looking at a group of people’s relation to the means of production, relation to consumption, and relations to other classes; and through this method he concluded that the Chinese peasantry were friends not enemies despite binding women’s feet so they don’t run away from their husbands being a popular cultural trend among said class.

Let’s look at the New Afrikan labor aristocracy as an example. We can see that the class basically has access to the means of production through its citizen status much like the Amerikan workers in 2022 (dead labor of third world proletarians; higher wages gained through super-exploitation of Africa, Asia, and Latin America; ability to buy and invest in stocks; etc.) We can also look at how it consumes far more than the international proletariat of Africa, Asia, and Latin America; but consistently consume less than its Amerikan counterparts such as how New Afrikan labor aristocrats are disproportionately more likely to live under the country’s poverty line compared to Amerikan labor aristocrats. We can also find out how its relations to the Amerikan labor aristocrat are far more hostile than friendly as the poorer an Amerikan is the more likely they are to hold extreme chauvinsit views (i.e. rednecks).

However, as embourgeoisfication of the New Afrikan workers solidified during the later half of the 20th century, their relation to the migrant proletarians (and migrants in general) of the Third World became more hostile as well: previous contradictions which were relatively non-antagonistic such as that in relation to the Mexican/Nigerian/Caribbean migrants are more antagonistic in our current day. So with these factors in mind, we can argue that this class of people (yes that includes the Black Hebrew Israelite with anti-Semitic tendencies) have interests for revolution against Amerika but might be more reserved when it comes to internationalism and involving the class in it self with other nations’ liberations. This is compared to the Hindi proletariat who will be far less wishy washy as a class in involving themselves with the struggle of the Dravidian proletariat when reaching class consciousness. So in conclusion, with proper political organizing the New Afrikan labor aristocracy would be a friend of the revolution.

Instead of this method of finding out who our friends and enemies are, most communists consider friends as people who have the correct takes on an xyz issue most people don’t even care about and enemies as people who hold reactionary views. One source of this ideology is how Amerikan culture promotes individual thinking and behavior as the mover of history rather than class struggle. With this mindset, racism is a problem started by individual Amerikans thinking and behaving racist and will end when individual Amerikans cease thinking and behaving racist. The Maoist method on the other hand sees that racism is a problem that was brought to inception by remnants of feudal European aristocrats (a class of people) stealing this land at gunpoint and trickery from what would become the modern First Nations, and enslaving what would become modern New Afrikans and militaristically invading the Mexican nation’s land, solidifying what would become modern Chicanos all for the various Amerikan classes’ interests (whether that be the big capitalist class, the small business owning capitalist class, or even the common Amerikan worker).

The Maoist solution is for these national contradictions to be resolved through the oppressed nations overthrowing Amerika through revolution. These historical events of Amerikan land conquest, slavery, and genocide were also crucial in acting as primitive accumulation for global capitalism-imperialism in general not only for Amerika. There is no modern day $outh Korea, Japan, Au$trailia, I$rael, $audi Arabia, Kanada, and so on without Amerikan slavery, Amerikan land conquest, and Amerikan genocide. Therefore proletarian dictatorship must be established to resolve this contradiction as well as overthrow of Amerika. But because of individualist Amerikan culture, national chauvinism is something treated with tone and etiquette led by student youth tired of their parents’ old backwards ways. This leads to the fourth problem.

4. The Sub-Culture Problem

Many newer generation communists have begun their politics through the internet. The original MIM was one of the first communist parties to have a website and put credence in the importance of the internet. It certainly is a politically important tool if it’s a major way youth are becoming interested in Lenin, and how all the imperialist governments partake in it in different ways from the FBI surveilling political internet forums to the Chinese Communist Party banning entire social media outlets. However, what the old MIM didn’t predict is that communist groups on social media aren’t the ones that primarily influence kids to read Mao Zedong and study the Black Panthers. Communist groups are far outshadowed online by memes, twitch streamers, tik tok spheres, instagram pages, internet forums, and the likes when it comes to converting kids to communism than communist organization internet presence. This has given rise to the problem of communism becoming more akin to a sub-culture talked about on social media sites like twitter and reddit than a political movement. Different political stances from Maoism, Trotskyism, all the way to Stirnerite Anarchism cease to become guides to action, but a thing to put on your bio. Various people’s wars and nations at war become more akin to fandoms for TV shows to obsess and argue over rather than a movement to popularize and create awareness for. Political line ceases to become a belief and action that one takes, but a take one has so they can get on the algorithm. Line struggle turn into flame wars with no purpose of uniting with others, but exist only to express one’s individual self for the cathartic feeling of having the correct line.

In day-to-day real life, communism might be becoming less and less pariah’d in the eyes of the average Amerikan; but communism itself is becoming more and more revisionist, more and more toothless, more and more a pop culture joke, and more and more a harmless icon of a once revolutionary movement that became hijacked by the bourgeoisie after its death, as Lenin spoke of. We took 20 steps forward and a million steps back when it comes to fighting against anti-communist culture leftover from the red scare era. Turns out Amerikan individualism was far more of an obstacle in making Maoism popular than the legacy of McCarthyism.

We shouldn’t throw away the internet with the bathwater as it indeed took a certain part in making the oppressor nation Amerikan youth become interested in revolutionary politics, but we should also be acutely aware of the sub-culture problem. A single New Afrikan, Chican@, or Indigenous member of the masses understanding the Maoist concept of reform and revolution and practicing to boycott the elections while not calling themselves communist nor wearing red armbands is 100 times more valuable to us in spreading popular support against imperialism than 300 college students with a Stalin portrait in their dorm rooms who thinks the white worker is a friend.

Conclusion

Many of these problems can only really be solved through the development of our movement as a whole. Even writing and publishing this article in Under Lock & Key can only do so much. Our dedicated prisoner comrades who read this will certainly be influenced, and perhaps they will get more insight as to the problems of the “activist” scene that they will be adjacent with once they get out; but when it comes to student youth abandoning Liberalism or the masses on the street taking up scientific thinking, it is up for the MIM (and not just the prison ministry) to develop and go to the masses as Mao said. For our readers and supporters outside, we challenge them to set up geographical MIM cells or work with MIM(Prisons) to develop the modern MIM. For our readers and supporters inside, we list these problems of the movement to stay sharp and aware once they get released.

Notes:
1. starting in ULK 73, prisoners write in for a copy of the full series
2. MIM, Applied internationalism: The difference between Mao Zedong and Joma Sison.
3. Wiawimawo, January 2016, Islam a Liberation Theology, Under Lock & Key No. 48.

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[Economics] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 79]
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Global Recession Threatens the Global Proletariat

It seems unanimous that 2023 will be a year of recession. A recent report from the United Nations Committee on Trade And Development (UNCTAD) opens up with:

"The world is headed towards a global recession and prolonged stagnation unless we quickly change the current policy course of monetary and fiscal tightening in advanced economies.

“Supply-side shocks, waning consumer and investor confidence and the war in Ukraine have provoked a global slowdown and triggered inflationary pressures.”(1)

Before talking more about the report, let’s start with some basics. Recession is something that is unique to capitalism. It is a product of capitalism’s inherent contradictions. In previous economic systems, problems of getting resources to people were caused by things like plagues, floods, droughts and war. All things that we are still familiar with today. But there is no other economics system where people go hungry because of “market forces” preventing adequate production and distribution. This happens at all times in capitalism, but it will be affecting broader swaths of the population as we go into recession.

While the pandemic was not the cause of current imbalances, it certainly helped exacerbate them. Because we live in a service economy, Amerikans had a hard time spending all their money when things were shut down. They’re used to regular entertainment, movies, costly sporting events and clubs, having people prepare food for them and the infamous getting their hair done which they cried for during the early lockdowns. Having all that cash on hand, they turned to purchasing goods, which were harder to get due to supply chains slowing down. As the U.$. government continued to roll out benefits to Amerikans they wanted to buy more things and there were less things available to buy. Companies selling things increased prices, and the pressure for inflation began.

The ability to keep printing dollars (in the forms of COVID relief money and low interest loans) is backed by the fact that the dollar is the dominant currency for international trade. And this is backed by U.$. dominance of international monetary organizations and U.$. militarism shaping the world economy in its image.

Increasing Dollar Power

In 2022, the U.$. Federal Reserve got serious about addressing inflation as it began to surpass 8% year-over-year (when they’d like it closer to 2%). In recent months, the Fed has continued to increase the interest rates by .75% at each meeting they have every 4 to 6 weeks. They have indicated that they plan to continue to do so to bring down wages and inflation. One of the goals of the Fed here is to increase unemployment and cool down the job market by making it more expensive for companies to borrow money. Recently Amerikans have had their pick of jobs with many opportunities to increase their incomes. Under capitalism, this is somehow a bad thing. Contrast this with the MIM Platform for a socialist dictatorship of the proletariat, which guarantees employment (as well as free day care, medical care, public transport and college education).

The UNCTAD report highlights the even greater negative impacts of raising interest rates in the United $tates on the Third World proletariat. Yet, UNCTAD’s calls for, “Central banks in developed economies to revert course and avoid the temptation to try to bring down prices by relying on ever higher interest rates.” seems to be a pipe dream at this point. As we discussed in our recent article on the war in Ukraine, the U.$. dollar is the reserve currency, which means what the U.$. Fed does has huge implications for money everywhere.(2) And other imperialist countries have filed suit by increasing interest rates to protect their own currencies from more extreme devaluation. The British pound just hit it’s all-time low exchange rate to the dollar, putting them almost at 1-to-1.

While Amerikans complain about oil prices rising from inflation, war and supply chain issues, OPEC has announced it is cutting production, which will increase global oil prices. This is not helping the cause of the Fed and the U.$. government trying to mitigate inflation for Amerikans.

Relatedly, Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries the UNCTAD forecasts to exceed “normal” pre-COVID GDP trends next year. However, President Biden is striking back at Saudi Arabia threatening to cut off arms sales to the country saying their leadership role in OPEC is aiding Russia, who has been engaged in a proxy war with the United $tates for more than half a year now. Again, we are seeing increasing divisions among the global powers. Similar to the divisions that precluded WWI and WWII as discussed by author Richard Krooth.

In our review of Arms & Empire in ULK 78 we quoted Krooth’s explanation of the role of the strong dollar in bringing on the Great Depression:

“…making it the hardest currency in the world, pushing up its value vis-a-vis other currencies, but also making it inaccessible to nations that otherwise would have purchased from America. When other nations could not obtain dollars by exports to the U.S., obviously they could import nothing at all. And so U.S. exports tended to fall and had to be replaced with bilateral trade agreements. Up went U.S. unemployment when markets fell away and bilateral trade could not replace them. Then down came the dollar, the U.S. devaluing in 1933 in an attempt to stimulate the exports again. But, alas, it was too late. The depression was on, production was down, America was spreading crisis to Europe!” (p.119)

While Europe is not quite in the rough shape it was at that time, de-industrialization has been the trend, as Amerikan’s have had more and more say in how their economies are structured. As we discussed in our recent article on Ukraine, the Amerikans have been conspiring to prevent a close relationship between Germany and Russia. Now it seems that the sabotage attack on the Nordstream 2 pipeline that was built to pipe gas from Russia to Germany is a continuation of those efforts by the Amerikans.

Economic Policy and Economic Systems

The UNCTAD report makes a number of recommendations to mitigate the impacts of the coming recession on the exploited Third World nations of the world, who of course will suffer the most. Again, these problems are inherent to capitalism and cannot ultimately be avoided without replacing it with a socialist economy. However, there are economic policies that can improve, or even save, the lives of millions of people today under capitalism. But they would need to be a bit more radical than those suggested by UNCTAD.

The MIM Platform includes two policies to be enforced by international banking authorities under capitalism:

  1. Elimination of international currency exchange rate fixing by governments.
  2. Tying of exchange rates to a standard basket of goods.

The UNCTAD report points out exchange rate depreciation in just six months this year for a number of exploited countries:

Sri Lanka77.8%
Ghana32.1%
Sudan29.7%
Egypt19.8%
Haiti15.6%

In the current system, when the currency in Sri Lanka depreciates by 77.8% that means that day-to-day expenses for the proletariat of Sri Lanka are probably about doubled. If exchange rates were tied to a standard basket of goods, then this would no longer be the case. Prices of things like food and fuel would be stabilized across the globe in local prices. The impact on the imperialist system on the people of Ghana is explained in more depth in our accompanying article.

Importantly, the above two demands by the MIM Platform would affect the ability to pay off foreign debts as well. The UNCTAD report lists the percent of government revenues spent on external debt in a number of countries:

Somalia96.8%
Sri Lanka58.8%
Dominican Republic20.4%
Ghana28%
Jamaica26.4%

How the heck can a state spend 97% of its revenue on debts to finance capital (or even 25% for that matter) and ever be able to provide for and serve the people of that country? Exchange rates cannot fix these huge problems, which require debt forgiveness. But the current system of exchange rates does make these debt payments increase as exchange rates worsen as is happening now with a strengthening dollar (as most debts are held in dollars). Overall, the percentage of state revenue spent on servicing debts across the Third World has doubled over the last decade according to this UNCTAD report. As surplus value extraction becomes more difficult, interest payments on debt becomes a larger part of the net flow of wealth from the exploited nations to the imperialist countries.

There seems to be no momentum for MIM’s proposed radical changes among the international bourgeoisie at this time, which means the economy will continue to tighten and shrink. And under capitalism that means people will suffer and die. The system is madness. If production of goods ceases to be profitable, production ceases, it does not matter how many people are in need of those goods. But one of the inherent contradictions within capitalism is that the tendency to compete and increase production constantly undercuts the rate of surplus value extraction. As a result profits are always (generally) becoming harder to come by. The introduction of the Chinese proletariat back into the imperialist economy after 1976, but especially in the 1990s, by the capitalists who run that country brought a breath of fresh air to imperialism with a huge, new source of surplus value. By 2008, the rates of profit had once again become harder to maintain, and today those contradictions are playing out in the form of hot wars, trade wars, currency wars and realignments of major powers.

Notes: 1. United Nations Trade and Development Report 2022.
2. MIM(Prisons), April 2022, Ukraine: Imperialism in Crisis, Under Lock & Key 77.

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